50 Cent Takes Us Through His Catalog, Album By Album

The New York MC details the creative journey that led him to Before I Self Destruct.

50 Cent first decided to make the Before I Self Destruct album about three years ago. Coming off the heels of 2005’s mega-seller The Massacre, Fif wanted to keep slaying ’em with another assault on the streets. However, a creative surge hit him early in the process, and he decided to bench Destruct in order to make the collaboration-heavy Curtis. In the interim, a few tracks intended for Destruct hit the Internet and mixtapes, and the full album was recorded and scrapped twice before he finally settled on the current incarnation, which was released on Monday.

“Well, this record is almost a prequel to Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” 50 said of the album’s feel. “The content is coming from situations I’ve experienced prior to when I created Get Rich or Die Tryin’. What I realized translated most through my material is the aggression, and the people miss it because the other artists don’t come from the same type of background or lifestyle. They don’t want that from those artists. You know, what they would knock me for is if I sung on a record — ’Oh, 50 is singing on a record’ — they get upset when I use the melody. I’ve been encouraged to use more melody because I’m an international touring artist and I’m watching the music break language barriers, and all they can follow is melody when you go out there at different points. So I brought it, I came back, and I did different things creatively and they kind of resent me for what they love Drake for. It’s interesting.”

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that 50’s had one of the most interesting careers of any MC of the last decade. He’s hit extreme highs with album sales and participated in intense rap beefs. Here, 50 took us on a express trip down memory lane and gave us the inside track on all four of his solo LPs.

Get Rich or Die Tryin’

“Largest debuting hip-hop album. [The guy on the cover], oh, he’s crazy. I mean, so much was going on at this point when I was writing this record. I had war chants like ’Many Men’ … ’P.I.M.P.,’ I was exposed to that lifestyle — I actually gave confirmation on Before I Self Destruct with ’Stretch’ where I kinda explained where I was exposed to that on that record: ’Like a pimp, me I was in the passenger seat.’ So I wrote the things, why these things were relevant to me, from this album onto the latest CD. You know I only recorded with Em and Dre for six days on this album? You can do a lot in six days, man!”

The Massacre

“[In] 2005 I was about 15 pounds heavier. I had to draw my muscles on. I got fat while I was doing the tour. And, umm … I overwrote this album. Yeah. It’s 22 cuts, the maximum playing time on a single CD. Technically it’s a double-disc. You know, I had so much going on creatively at that point that I also wrote the hit music that was on Game’s effort, you know, doing this project.”

Curtis

“This right here is my artist album — Curtis, album three. I had to name this album Curtis. My grandfather’s Curtis Sr., his first born is Curtis Jr., I’m his first grandchild, I’m Curtis James Jackson III. And that’s why my third album is titled Curtis. I attempted to make this album human. That was my outline for what the record should be. I wrote ’Straight to the Bank,’ I put laughter in the record — that was one of three records. I wrote what I felt what was representation of joy. I wrote ’I Still Kill’ featuring Akon. ’I Still Kill’ had the aggression, anger. ’Ayo Technology’ was love, sex. I put a lot of different things into this album, and I found a new place musically collaborating with all the talented artists on this project. What’s interesting is I came up with the concept before Before I Self Destruct and wrote four demo tracks before I decided to go with Curtis because I knew Before I Self Destruct would impact harder behind this.”

Before I Self Destruct

“Finally, album four, Before I Self Destruct — I’m deeming this classic here. I didn’t overwrite it. It’s got 15 cuts, 16 is the bonus with R. Kelly, ’Could Have Been You.’ I pick and choose my moments on this actual record. I finally found a balance of what I feel like a great album is — and this is representation of it right here. I knew what my singles were before we even got started. I came into it and said, ’This is going to work, I’m going to do “Baby by Me” and then I’m going to explain what happens when that doesn’t work, when a relationship doesn’t work. And then I’m going to go here, get it hot.’ And people don’t understand the transition and difference between Curtis and Before I Self Destruct.

” … ’I Get It In’ leaked out and I had to have Dre mix it. You know, the record was out and I wanted it to sound as best as possible. But we still weren’t prepared to launch the actual album, so we never actually shot the music video for that. I said, ’I’ll make something better,’ and I went back in the studio and I created ’Baby by Me’ and ’Do You Think About Me,’ which was written before all of that. And ’Hold Me Down’ was one of my favorite joints on an actual album. So this one, I’m proud of this record. I hope everyone gets it and enjoys it, however they get it.”